Thursday, February 26, 2015

Maro Prince of Magic Anniversary

Feb 26th, 1908, Edward Maro passed away from Typhoid Fever in Philedelphia PA. Here was a very interesting character and one that is mostly forgotten today. His posters remain and they are strikingly beautiful. And there is something else that remains, something I was unaware of until very recently (more on that later).

Unlike most magicians of his era, Maro made a lot of money performing magic. He was very similar to another magician I admire Robert Heller, in that he was both a magician and a gifted musician. Maro was only 39 when he passed away. I'll be writing more about Maro in the coming months. I plan to give you all a more detailed story of his life. If you visit one of other blogs you can see a photo of Maro's grave

Expect to read more of Maro later in the year!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Houdini In The News

There are two interesting articles on Houdini today in the news. One concerns more of the behind the scenes dealing with the Grim Game Movie acquisition. It's a very interesting article, here is the link.

The next article is about Allan Slaight's Magic Poster Collection being purchased in Canada. According to the article, "this is the second largest collection of Houdini material held in a public institution." The collection is more than just Houdini, there are 600 posters, 200 rare books and 200 documents all about the golden age of magic.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Sad Day of Rememberance

Feb 7, 2000, Doug Henning passed away. 15 years has passed since that news came out and it's still sad. However, to add to it, this morning I awoke to the news that the Maestro, Rene Levand has passed away. Rene was truly one of the most artistic performers of our art to ever live.

Wow, this has been a tough day. after I posted this I learned that Dean Dill also passed away today. He was such a kind man and fantastic performer. I am stunned.

RIP Rene Levand, Dean Dill, & Doug Henning.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Great Doug Henning

We are fast approaching the anniversary of the death of Doug Henning. He was an iconic magician who left us much too soon. But thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can still experience his magic. Now, I will say compared to some of the super slick illusions and mysteries of today, some of the magic seems dated. But you also get to some some real gems mixed in as well.

Below, is a video of one of Doug's specials I found on Youtube. There are some drawbacks to the video, for one it's dubbed in Spanish, so if you speak Spanish you might enjoy it even more. But for those of us that don't it's unfortunate that we can't really hear Doug. Also, Bill Cosby appears on the show as his co-host. At the time, Cosby was one of the biggest stars in show business. I'll not be going into the current controversy, except to say, ignore that and pay attention to Doug!

On this special you'll see: Things That Go Bump In the Night, The Double Sawing, The Flexible Mirror, Walking Through a Mirror, probably the very first version of The Elevator and still my favorite, and you'll also see the Rube Goldberg illusion that I believe was actually Doug's idea. For close-up you'll see a contribution from Paul Harris called Twilight, Doug's Matrix with Sea Shells, and the production of some Goldfish.

AND, for the magic history fans, there is something that I did not remember on this special. It's a version of the Book of Life used by FuManchu.

So if you don't speak Spanish, turn down the volume a little and enjoy the magic. If you do, enjoy every moment of this fun special from the 1970s.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Story of HOW the Grim Game Was Revived

Recently, the news came out that The Grim Game was being restored and would soon appear again. This is possibly Houdini's best movie and also one that hasn't been seen by the masses since it came out in 1919. Thanks to the ongoing efforts of Dick Brookz and Dorothy Dietrich from the Houdini Museum, we have the story. And a BIG THANK YOU to both of them for once again making the impossible possible!

Houdini Museum in Scranton PA Reveals the Secrets of 
Uncovering Houdini's 1919 Lost Silent Film The Grim Game

Magicians Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz, from the Houdini Museum in Scranton, PA, tell the story of the finding and restoration of the long lost Houdini silent movie from 1919, "The Grim Game\u001D". Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz from The Houdini Museum in Scranton, PA revealed, "The film has not been shown to the general public for 96 years. This was one of the most sought after items in Houdini History."

Houdini's movie Grim Game made in 1919, has been unavailable until now and considered lost. Brookz commented, "The only complete copy of the film was hidden in the collection of juggler Larry Weeks who got it from Houdini's wife after Houdini died. I have known Larry since I was in my early teens. Larry trusted us and knew we would never do any thing that was not in his best interest. He knew with us involved it would be done in a proper way to protect his legacy. We even put together and host his web site"

Dorothy and Dick had kept a friendly relationship with Larry Weeks and that is what helped to make this happen. Juggler Larry Weeks called himself "Houdini's biggest fan" and amassed one of the best Houdini collections in the world, specializing in films of Houdini. He had the only print of Houdini's lost film, "The Grim Game hidden away in his collection." He was known to show it at various occasions in his life time. It is reputed to be the best of Houdini's five films. Dick Brookz commented "Over the years Larry invited us to see the film on two occasions. He found it odd and incomprehensible when I, Dick Brookz, told him that some magicians berated him for hoarding the movie that he preserved over the years at great personal cost." Dietrich added "Our show business contact for negotiations, film producer and friend for over 20 years, Rick Schmidlin, was the right person to bring this project to fruition. Rick Schmidlin's mother, who we also knew, lived nearby The Houdini Museum. In April of 2014 Rick Schmidlin made another one of his occasional visits to The Houdini Museum in Scranton. At that meeting we decided to tell him about the whereabouts of The Grim Game and our long time friendship with Larry Weeks We called Larry Weeks on his private number and told him about Rick and our desire to have the film restored. It took several calls to convince Larry to meet with Rick. Larry finally agreed and gave us permission to pass along Larry's number. Rick set up a meeting and arranged to acquire the film for Turner Classic Movies. Rick had to jump through a lot of hoops and clear several hurdles with tough negotiations. In the end, Rick put the pieces together to get the film, have it restored and added an original movie score. The wonderful thing is that the film content is complete., although it required a lot of restoration. Just prior to this time we had spoken with Larry several times and he informed us of his rapidly diminishing health so time was of the essence. The deal was made!" Larry Weeks died October 13, 2014, before the public would get news of the acquisition on January 23, 2015.

The restored film will have an musical score composed by Brane Zivkovic an award winning film, television, and theatre composer. This was all done with financial help from Turner Classic Movies, who will premiere it at the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival held Thursday, March 26 - Sunday, March 29, 2015, in Hollywood.
Dietrich continued, "We are so proud to have accomplished this. To know that essentially every magician in the world big and small, will get the thrill of viewing this wonderful Houdini movie because of us. This includes future magicians for all time, as well as millions of non magicians. It was our goal to get this to someone who would release it to the public and not hoard in their cellar or a back room somewhere. Background information.

The Houdini Museum located in Scranton, PA is the only building in the world dedicated to Houdini. It has been put together by well known professional magicians Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz. The Houdini Museum has also taken on the responsibility of taking care of the abandoned Houdini Grave site, and recently replaced Houdini's missing bust that was destroyed 40 years ago by vandals.

Dorothy Dietrich is considered the leading female magician and escape artist in the world having been called "the First Lady of Magic," and "The Female Houdini." She has appeared in countless Television specials including "You Asked For It", a Bill Cosby Special, " The Tomorrow Show", "Atlantic City Alive",  " Evening Magazine", "Just For The Record, the Best Of Everything", Montel Williams, etc. She was Special Guest Star in HBO's "The World's Greatest Escapes," costarring movie legend Tony Curtis, in which she escaped hanging from the bottom of a parachute ride hundreds of feet in the air while hanging from a singe piece of rope that was set on fire and she is the only women in history to accomplish The Jinxed Bullet Catch in the mouth, the one stunt Houdini backed out of. The stunt has killed over 13 men and injured many others. This stunt was done at Resorts International in Atlantic City. Both stand as world records to this day. When not doing crazy stunts such as these she travels with a magic show that features doves, a duck, a rabbit and two pet poodles. When in her home town of Scranton she appears on a regular basis on stage of The Houdini Museum.

Dick Brookz has been a professional magician his entire life. He has fronted for Bobby Darin, Jack Jones, Neil Sedaka at performed at such venues as #1 Fifth Ave, The Rainbow Grill, The Americana Hotel and Casino in Puerto Rico, Aruba Hotel and Casino, etc. For a while in his spare time he wrote songs, one that became a "bubble gum" hit in the mid-west, "Powerhouse" that ended up being the theme song for the candy bar of the same name. Dick Brooks owned The Magic Towne House on the affluent Upper East Side of Manhattan. He pulled Brother Theodore out of retirement in the last 1970's for special weekend midnight performances. This resulted in a resurgence of interest in Brother Theodore that brought Brother Theodore success in his later years. The show was a success and ran for several seasons.

Rick Schmidlin is a film preservationist, silent film scholar, and a producer-director whose work has focused on restorations, reconstructions and documentaries. Rick is the only filmmaker to ever receive awards for two consecutive years from The National Society of Film Critics and The Los Angeles Film Critics Association.
To see this release with pictures go to